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18th Century Market Fair

Louisville’s Locust Grove to offer
rare look at life on an early Kentucky farm

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (October 2006) – Upon learning through genealogical research that his ancestors were some of the first Europeans to settle in Kentucky, Rod Smothers knew he had to learn more about these people and the times in which they lived. He took the plunge into re-enacting six years ago and became hooked on Kentucky’s importance in the Revolutionary War period.

Soldier Re-enactors

Photo provided

British and American soldier re-enactors
and mock battles will draw a crowd to
Locust Grove’s Market Fair.

While visiting Vincennes, Ind., Smothers, 51, met a re-enactor who “encouraged me to begin to put together my “kit” – clothes, weapons, accoutrements, so I could begin to attend (historical events) as a participant.”
He first participated in the Battle of Bluelicks re-enactment, held every August at Blue Licks State Resort Park in Robertson County, Ky. This gave him a taste of what it was like to be “on the other side of the fence.”
Smothers enjoyed the experience so much that he built his own flintlock rifle, became more attentive to his clothing and let his hair grow long, all in order to obtain a more period correct appearance. “I began reading about the importance of the Kentucky Frontier in the Revolutionary War and visiting important sites,” he said.
Smothers is just one of 300 re-enactors who will come to Locust Grove, a historic home in Louisville, on Oct. 28-29. An 18th century Market Fair will be held on the grounds from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for children 6-12 and for seniors 62 and older.
“The event is a great look back at 18th century fairs where people would gather to trade goods and meet with one another,” said Aileen M. Novick, program director for Locust Grove. This event is sponsored by Historic Locust Grove in association with Kellar’s Company, Illinois Regiment of Virginia.
A big draw for this event is the number of re-enactors, who will portray soldiers from the British and American forces and a few Hessians. Different re-enacting groups will hold mock battles in the field in front of the historic home, and many civilian re-enactors will portray camp followers.
The fair will contain about 30 vendors selling 18th century style goods, which include such handmade crafts as pottery, soap, clothing, floor cloths, wooden crafts, woolen goods, toys and household items.
“The entertainment is all 18th century style as well,” said Novick. The Amazing Budabi Brothers will astound the public by juggling swords and fire, Silas Moore the Rat Catcher will wander the grounds, great Italian equilibrist Signora Bella will perform, and French lace maker Monsieur Le Farceur de Villeverte (Tim Nealeigh) will educate listeners about lace making.
A returning favorite with patrons will be 18th century musicians Father, Son & Friends.
Their style of music incorporates a Celtic flair and keeps things lively during the annual Barn Brou Ha Ha from 7-9 p.m., complete with giant bonfire and scary stories. In addition, the Duffys will play their own brand of music with hammered dulcimer and fiddle, and the general public is encouraged to attend the night performances in Halloween costumes.
“We host this event to educate the public in an entertaining way,” said Novick. “People are given a real idea of what life was like in the 18th century on an early Kentucky farm.”

Locust Grove Market

Photo provided

The Locust Grove Market Fair offers
shopping and a history lesson.

Locust Grove is “special because it is an actual historical site with an original house and many family items that can be traced back to the family’s earliest days in Kentucky,” said Smothers. The Croghan family lived in the home, as well as Gen. George Rogers Clark, for a time.
Being able to educate the public about a specific time period, and the sacrifices made by our ancestors and their daily lives, is one reason Smothers continues to re-enact. Another reason is those magical moments he experiences in camp when there are no evidences of the 21st century. “It’s like being IN a movie rather than watching it,” he said.
Smothers is a member of Benjamin Logan’s Kentucky County Militia (1777). He portrays a temporary soldier, as militiamen were called upon for relatively short stints of 30, 60 or 90 days for particular campaigns.
After they were released from duty, the militiamen often returned to their lives as farmers, craftsmen or merchants. For this reason, Smothers’ civilian activity is that of portraying a flax farmer. He actually grows flax and demonstrates the process of turning flax into linen.
He has collected or built the period correct tools necessary to turn flax weeds into beautiful linen. “Many people never really think about how clothes were made in the 18th century or how they get on store shelves today,” said Smothers, whose day job is that of Chief Information Officer for Trimble County Schools.
Benjamin Logan was an early Kentucky frontiersman who built Logan’s Fort near Stanford, Ky. Smothers’ military re-enacting group uses the 1764 manual of arms used during the French and Indian War.
“Logan’s Company is probably best known for escorting the “Hairbuyer” Henry Hamilton to Williamsburg to stand trial following George Rogers Clark’s victorious Northwest Territory Campaign,” said Smothers.
About a year and a half ago, Smothers assembled a group of people who formed the non-profit Falls Landing Foundation to establish a local event to commemorate Gen. George Rogers Clark’s landing at Corn Island in Louisville. To learn more about this group, visit: www.fallslanding.org.

• For more information on the 18th century Market Fair, contact Aileen Novick at (502) 897-9845 or visit: locustgrove.org.

Sculptor Hamilton to speak at Locust Grove

Historic Locust Grove in Louisville prepares for this November’s Bicentennial Homecoming of Lewis & Clark with a free lecture by local sculptor Ed Hamilton.
Hamilton will discuss creating the memorial to honor York, the slave of William Clark, who was a vital part of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. The 8-foot heroic bronze was dedicated on the Belvedere on Oct. 14, 2003, as part of Louisville’s Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Celebration. After Ed Hamilton’s lecture, a book signing will be held in celebration of his autobiography, “The Birth of an Artist: A Journey of Discovery.”
This free lecture was made possible by a grant from the Kentucky Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Commission and a grant from the Falls of the Ohio Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Committee.
The Fall 2006 series of lectures will focus on the Lewis & Clark Expedition in preparation for the Bicentennial Homecoming this November. Historic Locust Grove’s Afternoon Lecture Series is held the first Wednesday of each month. Dessert and coffee are served at 1 p.m. with the lecture immediately following at 1:15 p.m. Reservations are not required. 

• For more information call (502) 897-9845.

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